COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Every week the Colorado Springs Police Department K-9 Unit can be found training together. It's all to keep the dogs accurate and on point, whether they're tracking down narcotics or a fleeing suspect.
Officer Jeremy Sheldon and K-9 Officer Dax walked into their training session together, as they always are, Wednesday.
"It's a really good partnership," Sheldon said. "I trust him with my life and he trusts me with his."
The pair's first challenge is awaiting upstairs in a vacant downtown building, where rooms are waiting planted with narcotics for them to track down.
"It's the type of narcotics that we're seeing on a daily basis, these illegal narcotics that we're running into," Officer Mark Keller said.
In just minutes Dax finds the hidden drugs.
"It's just like anything that you would train for yourself personally, the more you do it, the better at it your going to be, the more reliable you're going to be," Keller said.
"We have to stay on them, we have to keep their training up because it's an asset they can't lose," Sheldon said.
The pair moves downstairs, where a planted suspect is hiding in a small crawlspace in the wall for the pair to find.
"Colorado Springs Police Department, K-9 Unit. Sound off immediately. The dog will be released and you will be bit," Sheldon said prior to entering the room with the door propped open.
The K-9 unit is given specific guidelines on when they can deploy a dog.
"We're not going to use our dog for any situation," Sgt. Brian Cummings said. "The person has to be a danger to the public, has to be a danger to officers, the person has to be actively evading arrest and their crime has to be something significant."
"Really we want to end it peacefully, we don't want to deploy the dog," Sheldon said. "With his size and stuff, just him alone is a deterrent to some people."
Except in rare circumstances, each person the K-9 unit is after receives a warning.
"If the person is armed with a deadly weapon we're probably not going to do that because that puts us in danger," Cummings said. "We want to give that person every opportunity to surrender."
Back downstairs, the Sheldon and Dax search the room. Just over the weekend, the pair helped find a burglary suspect near Academy and Union.
When Dax gives the signal where he believes the suspect is, Sheldon re-attaches his leash and gives another warning to the hidden suspect.
"Come out with your hands up immediately. Dog will be released, you will be bit," Sheldon said.
Cummings, the unit's supervisor said the team really is working to help officers and citizens on the streets.
"We want to use our dogs to help somebody," Cummings said.Cummings adding the 10 pair unit is dedicated and hardworking.
"You spend more time with this dog then you do your own family. You're at home with this dog, you go to work with this dog," Cummings said. "They just don't get the thanks for the dedication."